Back in 2014 the concept of a developing an all encompassing community hub in the highest area of deprivation in the North of Ireland was discussed by stakeholders and community representatives around what is known as the Corrigan Village Concept in the heart of West Belfast. The concept includes developing the infrastructure around providing such amenities as a children’s centre, a theatre, an Enterprise school and zone, youth exchange buildings, Irish Medium Creche, boxing club, accommodation and an overarching health and well being brand.
Within these plans the development of a youth MMA Centre of Excellence was presented by Councillor Steven Corr who has been an advocate of Amateur MMA and its benefits for a long time. Steven was instrumental in gaining the backing of Belfast City Council to run the first ever amateur and junior novice MMA tournament back in February under the auspices of the Ulster Amateur MMA Association. Recognising the benefits of MMA as a sport and as a youth development tool, Steven approached Ulster Chairman Danny Corr with his idea for an MMA Centre. Steven wanted to emulate the work of the Ulster MMA club run by Danny, The ZKJ Dojo, which operates as a non profit making entity, uniquely providing Youth development and MMA programmes in conjunction with partners such as the NI Youth Forum. In 2014 Danny was part of a select group from the North who received training in Rio Brazil from Fight for Peace and as a result the dojo has implemented this training to gain recognition from mainstream Government to run MMA programmes for youths and children who may have been caught up in anti-social behaviour or worse.
After almost 2 years of work the concept is now a reality: Belfast City Council has backed the funding of an MMA Centre of Excellence with £70,000 from the Local Investment Fund earmarked to establish a purpose built centre for the area, with Ulster Chairman Danny Corr and the blueprint of the ZKJ Dojo as the backdrop to the future of MMA in the north.
Danny Corr commented:
“I am really excited and privileged to be part of this amazing concept. It has taken a lot of hard work and discussion to get to this final stage but having mainstream recognition especially from Government sources is what MMA needs. My hope is that this will lead the way for other similar concepts throughout the country and that there can be centres in every district council area where we have amazing MMA Coaches working daily to develop the sport and its future. I look forward to a few months time when the doors will open to a new era of MMA in the North for everyone.”